Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Muuuch Better

Lots of riding was enjoyed over the weekend. Saturday I showed up with my game face on, determined to get past the crappy riding of the previous weekend. And I achieved!

First of all I broke out the woolback pad for the season. This thing is heavy and I hesitate to use it in hot weather so it's been waiting patiently in the tack room all summer. I did the leg stretches forward & backward on all 4 legs. Razz loves to stretch his fronts all the way out. We walked around the barn area for a while, then crossed the bridge into the huge corn field. A lap around the perimeter and Razz was loosened up and ready to work. So we made our way over one more field (one not loaded with cork stalk remnants) and got to it!

warm up walk

We went straight to trot and serpentined across the entire field, making tight-ish u turns, taking advantage of the long straight stretches to randomly swap my posting diagonal and feel what was going on underneath me. The right rein has always been Razz's weaker side. I could feel his steady pace waiver a bit in the hind end switching to the left diagonal (is this correct terminology? Posting up w/left shoulder = left diagonal??) Nothing severe, just a rebalance. Switching to the other diagonal he carried on no problems. 

After a couple large laps of trot I asked for a canter the way jenj described asking in her post with gp trainer. Razz popped in to canter easier than ever. I hit the nail on the head the first time, although I wasn't batting 1000. Not being used to giving an aid at such a precise moment, I had some fails. But when I got it right he was seamless and I was grinning from ear to ear.

Every time I made a longside pass down the field headed away from the barn he wanted to bend his barrel left. Like really bad. His pasture is beside the field I was working in, and he's grown extremely chummy with one of his pasturemates. I attributed this odd bending to the fact that he just wanted to go back out with his pal. His diversion. I wrapped my left leg around his side and gave him a firm twist of my heel lower down his ribcage than normal. I have to sit the trot when giving the heel. I've never been good at applying a varying degree of leg aids while posting. And contrary to my recent blog entry where I complain about being out of shape and unable to sit a canter properly, I can sit my trots pretty well without being a potato sack. 

He was trying to get strong with me on our large laps. Especially so in the turns, falling heavy on the forehand and bracing against the rein. I worked on not being so forward in my half seat and made my turns as large as possible. Also focused on keeping my hands super quiet. Hopefully soon I can get hubby to hold him on a lunge line so that I can focus solely on my seat. A real lesson would be even better, but that will have to wait til after the new year. 

Pleased with our work, I pointed him back toward the chewed up corn field to cool out. 

Sunday I got up early and took a hike into the Croatan with one of my closest friends. We found bear tracks, and when I got to the barn later and told everyone they wanted to ride over and see. Back in the Croatan I went. My feet were so sore by the time I got home! 

bear tracks, with friend's size 10
providing vague scale

Monday, December 12, 2016

Blogger Gift Exchange - 2016 Edition

I participated in last year's gift exchange for the first time and had a great experience. The brush and knife I received from Figure have become two of my favorite barn tools and I think about her every time I use them. My gifts were sent to outofashes who was in between horses at the time. I'm so glad she found her Peebs. And again a huge shout out to Tracey for hosting and making all arrangements. Thanks so much :)

When I got home from work on Wednesday there was a box waiting for me at my front door. I let it sit (in the living room, not at the front door) for two days because I don't like to open presents early, but then decided Friday evening to go for it. What was in the box?

I love opening these gifts because they are a true surprise. My husband buys me horse gifts every year, but I pick them out. My gifter this year is Michelle from Cruisen In Stilettos. She took the turquoise theme and ran with it, sending me some tack sponges, new curry, the best tail product I've ever used, and a super awesome extention.

I was trying that tail cream out as soon as I got to the barn Saturday. It smells great and has a light texture. Any tangles in Razz's tail came right out. Couldn't have arrived at a better time either thanks to the harsh, cold, dry air. Static has been so bad that I've barely been able to groom without shocking the hell out of my boy. Too bad I can't use this stuff all over him. It eliminates the charge build up.

The extension suits my alternative personality. Now I have a punk pony hehe. First time I attached it via a braid binder and it stuck out at a weird angle. So I took that down and attached it directly via the loop on top of the extension and braided it in. It stayed in place throughout my hour long flat school. I will begin using this anytime I have plenty of time to groom because it is a fun little addition.

The lighting in Razz's barn sucks. I had to adjust these shots to get the extension to show up. The down side of being a lone wolf is no media while riding the horse. I'm sure his tail was silky and flowing. And colorful.

In addition to the cool gifts I also have a new blog to follow. Thanks so much for everything Michelle!!! Tesla is quite the looker and I love her name. Also fyi, your card was beautiful and your artwork would look great on a shirt.  :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Reality came crashing down on me over the weekend. My lifestyle needs to change. The thought is daunting and I'm not sure where to begin. Like horses, I am very much a creature of habit. Cultivating these changes is gonna be tough since I'm in new territory. 

I've been riding out with a group since Halloween. Not for any reason in particular. That's just the way things happened. The Croatan is ridable again and the weather nice, so we all want to put a few miles on our ponies. These are quintessential trail rides...loose rein, lots of chatter and laughing. Once we return to the barn I make a few laps in the field and put Razz through the few movements he knows. 

Saturday felt weird from the start. It was odd travelling to the barn alone (cause hubby has been riding lately too). It was odd that no one else was there to ride when I arrived. It was odd that I didn't have to keep an eye on time during the grooming process (I tend to groom way more than my fellow riders and if I mismanage my time they end up waiting on me). The quiet of the barnyard was rather overwhelming too. My pony was glad to see me when I arrived. I pulled up all the remaining carrots out of my garden, cleaned up the nicest ones and brought them with me.

Grooming was a chore on Saturday. Razz has a full winter coat and I hadn't ridden since before thanksgiving. His halter needed to be let out a notch because his face is so fuzzy. He's also gained some weight during his time off. 

no, I haven't noticed that long
eyelash til now, also note my
reflection in his eye. its like
an Escher self portrait
that is one fat pony

Okay. He's not as big as that pic makes him look. But he's still awfully hefty. And he was behind my leg from the moment I climbed on. We started in the arena. He's never excited about riding in there. He was stiff. I was stiff. I couldn't sit a canter to save my life. I expected Razz to be rusty but not me, not that bad. The barn owners have cameras all over the place, and I decided I didn't want to be seen riding so horribly. We got the hell out after maybe fifteen minutes, and went down to the huge fields below the barn. 

After making one lap around the perimeter of the largest field I trotted over to its smaller neighbor. That field is much better for flatting. Razz was willing out here, although initially he still offered a buck when I asked for more laborious efforts. My riding was just as horrible as earlier. I have never ridden so badly in my life. What's the problem? I don't feel balanced at all. My stamina is shit. My hip angle is locked. When I try to loosen up I ride like the sack of potatoes so many of you have referenced in the past. I could see him pinning his ears as I flailed around on his back. Once up in two point I felt ok until I asked for tighter turns. My butt just felt so heavy. Like a train caboose that wasn't on the track, being recklessly dragged along by the engine. I tried so hard to get things back on track but it wasn't working out. At this point I was super depressed. 

My riding sucks because I haven't been riding that much at all. Life has required my attention be in other areas lately. And I'm only a couple years away from 40. My body is unfortunately shifting into middle age mode. I am now going to have to work for things that have always come naturally to me. The stamina and athleticism, once called upon when needed and never given a second thought afterward, now has to be maintained if I expect to have it at all. The metabolism that used to make light work of all the calories I consumed doesn't burn so hot anymore either. I have a neuroma on the bottom of my left foot that bothers me at least four days out of the week. My right leg has phlebitis in a minor outer vein, although it doesn't look that minor at all when it's flared up. I'm on my feet too much already (that's why the neuroma & phlebitis exist), the last thing I feel like doing is more moving.

So this is where things start to really suck. I have to find the motivation to get out of the comfort zone I've known my whole life. Make it a point to work out. Make it a point to ride even if my foot is killing me. Cut out the midnight snack I'm so fond of. 2016 has been a bit more stressful than most years and I confess to a bit of stress eating. I don't want to give up everything I enjoy.

Back to the ride on Saturday, after flatting a while in the second field I crossed the road over to a third field. The field where the mini longhorn steers live. I began to mull over all my thoughts as I made my way around the edge of their pasture. Then Razz decided he was going to get spooky over a leaky water hose that was filling one of the cattle troughs. My rock solid trail horse was scared shitless of the strobe effect the drip was giving off as it caught the light of the setting sun. Silly pony. We walked zig zag past the hose instead of straight by.

finally got a pic of the helmet
hubby bought me :)
The ride finished uneventful. That's not a bad thing. I will find a way to get healthy. To get the train back on track. And hopefully be a better rider when I come out on the other side. 

Razz you are not starved, plz stop eating
long enough for me to get a good shot